The White House announced details of two President Joe Biden administration policies to fight COVID-19 that it hopes will drive more progress and result in millions of Americans getting vaccinated, protecting workers, preventing hospitalization, saving lives and strengthening the economy.
First, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is announcing the details of a requirement for employers with 100 or more employees to ensure each of their workers is fully vaccinated or tests for COVID-19 on at least a weekly basis.
The OSHA rule will also require that these employers provide paid-time for employees to get vaccinated, and ensure all unvaccinated workers wear a face mask in the workplace. OSHA has a strong 50-year record of requiring employers to take common sense actions to prevent workers from getting sick or injured on the job. This rule will cover 84 million employees.
Second, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) at the Department of Health and Human Services is announcing the details of its requirement that health care workers at facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid are fully vaccinated. The rule applies to more than 17 million workers at approximately 76,000 health care facilities, including hospitals and long-term care facilities.
The administration has previously implemented policies requiring millions of federal employees and federal contractors to be fully vaccinated. To make it easy for businesses and workers to comply, the administration announced that the deadline for workers to receive their shots will be the same for the OSHA rule, the CMS rule and the previously-announced federal contractor vaccination requirement.
Employees falling under the ETS, CMS, or federal contractor rules will need to have their final vaccination dose – either their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or single dose of Johnson & Johnson – by Jan. 4, 2022. OSHA is also clarifying that it will not apply its new rule to workplaces covered by either the CMS rule or the federal contractor vaccination requirement.
And, both OSHA and CMS are making clear that their new rules preempt any inconsistent state or local laws, including laws that ban or limit an employer’s authority to require vaccination, masks or testing.
The administration called on all employers to ensure that as many of their workers are vaccinated as quickly as possible. As detailed in a recent White House report, vaccination requirements work and are good for the economy. Vaccination requirements have increased vaccination rates by more than 20 percentage points – to over 90 % – across a wide range of businesses and organizations.
According to Wall Street analysts, vaccination requirements could result in as many as 5 million American workers going back to work, and a survey of prominent, independent economists found unanimous agreement that vaccination requirements will “promote a faster and stronger economic recovery.”
New Requirements for
Health Care Workers
CMS is requiring workers at health care facilities participating in Medicare or Medicaid to have received the necessary shots to be fully vaccinated – either two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson – by Jan. 4. The rule covers approximately 76,000 health care facilities and more than 17 million health care workers – the majority of health care workers in America – and will enhance patient safety in health care settings.
The rule applies to employees regardless of whether their positions are clinical or non-clinical and includes employees, students, trainees, and volunteers who work at a covered facility that receives federal funding from Medicare or Medicaid.
Among the facility types covered by the rule are hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, dialysis facilities, home health agencies and long-term care facilities.